Morikami’s original museum, the Yamato-kan, houses two permanent exhibitions. The Yamato Colony: Pioneering Japanese in Florida presents the history of this daring agriculture experiment that brought George Morikami to the Sunshine State. The interactive Japan Through the Eyes of a Child transports visitors to Japan, allowing them to step into the world of contemporary Japanese culture.

The Yamato Colony: Pioneering Japanese in Florida

Why do we find the name Yamato, an ancient name for Japan, here in Palm Beach County? Because the Yamato Colony was a small community of Japanese farmers who lived in present-day northern Boca Raton. Learn the history of our founder, George Morikami, and the community of pioneering immigrants that once settled the area in our permanent exhibit The Yamato Colony: Pioneering Japanese in Florida. Click below for an in-depth history of the colony, written by our former Curator and Cultural Director, Tom Gregersen. 

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Japan Through the Eyes of a Child

Step into Japanese culture and experience it first-hand in this exhibition designed especially for our young visitors, but enjoyed by all. Four Japanese neighborhoods transport you from Florida to far-off Japan. This exhibition was developed by the National Children’s Museum in Washington, D.C.,  and is funded by a grant from the Kohnken Family Foundation.

Train Station

Japan’s public transportation system is one of the best in the world, and a great way to see the country. In this section of Japan Through the Eyes of a Child, walk onto a train platform and board the famed Shinkansen bullet train. Once inside, sit in seats from a real bullet train and see what Japan’s fastest mode of transportation is like. You’ll also find maps of Japan as well as a Japanese style vending machine.

Train Station

Elementary School Classroom

In Japan, students take off their shoes at school, as they do at home, and keep their classroom neat and tidy by cleaning it themselves. In Japan Through the Eyes of a Child, sit at real desks and discover what Japanese students are learning. Explore the three writing systems, as well as Japanese textbooks,  an abacus (the famous Japanese counting tool) and Japanese-style book-bags and school uniforms on display.

Elementary School Classroom

A Japanese Main Street

Just walking along the street can be an education in itself. Replicating a neighborhood shopping street in Japan, this section of the exhibit offers something new at every turn. Japan is known for its stationery goods, and here is a stationery store stocked with school supplies, as well as popular Japanese toys. Whereas the stationery store has a façade of gleaming white tile, the kimono shop next door features wood construction and traditional architectural flourishes. In a show window next door, partially concealed by a noren (traditional privacy curtain), are garments that children might wear for Japan’s major holidays, such as New Years. Other stores include a shop selling box lunches, and one featuring folk toys from every part of the country.

Street of Shops

Japanese House

Many activities of daily life in the Japanese home take place while families are sitting or reclining on tatami-covered floors. In Japan Through the Eyes of a Child, enter a Japanese house and see how our friends across the Pacific live at home. After passing through the front door of the house, at the end of the shopping street, take off your shoes in the entry vestibule, or genkan. The “house” is represented by a suite of three rooms including a sitting room with tatami mats, a kitchen, and, yes, a room for a bath and toilet! Explore these rooms, sit on the tatami floor and view the garden outside, wonder why the bath tub is so deep, yet so short, and puzzle over the many buttons and dials on the space-age toilet.

Japanese House